Small National Park – Huge National Impact: Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park is home to some of the tallest trees in the eastern United States. Compared to other National Parks it may appear small, but this 22,200 acre-park has a huge national impact on the United States. Preserving this primeval forest landscape is crucial to not only our survival, but the plants and animals that live there.

As we drove to Congaree National Park from Summerville, SC, we were unsure what to expect. It’s just one of those National Parks you don’t hear much about unless you actually do your research. As we approached the park, the landscape seemed barren. Many loggers made the land what it is today and poverty has seemed to have taken over. As soon as my GPS told us to turn into the National Park, these magnificent trees began to appear. There was no longer sunshine beating down on us, but shade created by one of the highest forest canopies in the world. It was magnificent and breathtaking.

The park may be a sanctuary for plants and animals, but it was a sanctuary for us as well. We were able to walk and relax in this tranquil setting surrounded by natures silence. The park offered us peace and tranquility unlike I had ever experienced before.

The park offers many hiking trails and camp sites. As soon as you arrive in the park, you will come upon the Visitors Center. Stopping at this place upon your arrival is a crucial part to getting the full experience. Here you can pick up maps, hear suggestions from the park rangers, and learn more about the parks ecosystem. We only had a few hours to spend in the park, so we decided to take the Boardwalk Trail which begins and ends outside of the Visitors Center. This Boardwalk Trail acts as a self-guided tour. You can pick up the map in the Visitors Center and follow the numbered signs along the trail. Each numbered sign corresponds with a paragraph on the map to let you know what you are looking at. Some stops on the trail, you may be looking at a different type of plant or tree and if you look hard enough you will even see an old box that people used to make and hide Moonshine in. The trail is mostly on a wooden raised boardwalk, but in some areas where the boardwalk is closer to the ground, you may have to walk through mud/water depending on the season. You also have easy access to catch Weston Lake Trail and Sims Trail from the Boardwalk.

Many years ago as loggers started targeting South Carolina for their large Cypress trees, residents in the area wanted to try and preserve some of these wonderful, magnificent trees. This is why Congaree National Park was formed. Before it was a National Park, many outlaws of the South used it as the perfect hiding place to create and store their moonshine. The trees and plant life provided enough coverage so that no one would ever find it. On the walking tour, you can see the old boxes in which Moonshine was made and stored in as mentioned above.

If you are ever in South Carolina, don’t overlook this park. Each National Park is unique in its own way just waiting to be seen.

I HAD to show off this huge spider we found. This is as far as my camera would allow me to zoom in. It doesn’t do it justice.

With love & gratitude,

Crystal & Shane

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Spending a Week on a Land-Locked Yacht

 

 

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float; to gain all while you give; to roam the roads of lands remote; to travel is to live.” – Hans Christian Andersen

 

Our most recent vacation involved a 13 hour road trip to Summerville, South Carolina where we stayed on a yacht. The whole yacht part sounds luxurious, doesn’t it?

What your thinking is probably not exactly true. It was no where near luxurious, in fact I would call it, “roughing it”. You were probably picturing water, too – yet, there was no water in sight. The yacht was land-locked surrounded by trees and houses and it actually resided near a graveyard. It really wasn’t as bad as I am making it seem. The bed was comfy, it had all the amenities we would ever need including Netflix & Amazon, it also had a fire pit and grill out in the yard for us to enjoy. It was an experience we will never forget.

Watch your head! As you can imagine, this yacht turned tiny house isn’t made comfortably for anyone over 5’7″. Also, if you had more than two people down below at one time you would probably feel claustrophobic. As you walk down from the deck, you enter the kitchen which is equipped with a breakfast bar, a sink, microwave, fridge and freezer. You also had an option to hook up the conventional oven and portable stove top provided to you.

Past the breakfast bar, you enter the living room which had a TV and a daybed. At the bow, you have a bathroom. The bathroom in my opinion was probably the worst part as it was a waterfall showerhead. This meant that every time you took a shower, everything in the bathroom would get wet. The toilet, the sink, the counter, the walls, the ceiling, your toilet paper! I made sure to wear shower shoes at all times. That can’t be sanitary, but we made light of it and went with the flow so to speak. At the stern, you walked down into the bedroom with an oversized king size bed and mood lighting.

The place may not have been the cleanest, or the biggest (obviously), or the most practical – but it was fun nonetheless. My favorite part was everything outside of the boat. I loved doing yoga on top of the yacht every morning in the sun. I loved having a bon-fire with my love every night. I enjoyed the peacefulness of being away from the 9-5 and being in a place unknown.

If you are interested in staying on a yacht, check out the listing on Airbnb!

xoxo, Crystal.

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A Sunny, Southern Beaufort Tour

Beaufort, South Carolina is beautiful in many ways. With tales and stories of written history dating over 500 years, it is a history buff’s dream town. Beaufort has also been a popular movie set for well known films such as Forrest Gump, The Great Santini, and The Jungle Book. Not only is the town architecturally beautiful, Beaufort seems to always have the perfect weather. This town can offer a unique, romantic getaway from all the hustle and bustle of your everyday life.

Richard V. Woods Memorial Bridge-aka. the bridge from Forrest Gump

Beaufort, not far from Hilton Head Island, is a town that can be overlooked and not overrun by summer tourists. It is a unique destination you must put on your list! Huge historical homes, Spanish moss, and haunted graveyards add to the towns mystique. Many of those historical homes are made with shells, also known as “coastal concrete”. Oyster shells and sand is what people on the coast used before concrete was made.  The residents of Beaufort have tried to maintain this little piece of architectural history by repairing and maintaining many of the homes within the town. While you walk down the sidewalks, you may see remaining shells and coastal concrete scattered about.

I love Spanish Moss, I’m a little obsessed.

Take a stroll through one of many of Beaufort’s cemeteries. With their Civil War era crumbling tombstones and Spanish Moss, every cemetery has it’s own unique and eerie look and feel to them. Some of the churches on the properties let you walk in to take a peek as well.

Beth Israel Cemetery

If you go to visit Beaufort, try one of their many touring companies. Take a walking tour (some are free) or take a buggy ride with The Southurn Rose Buggy Tours. Our tour guide was awesome. She knew every piece of history her town had to offer. She also showed us each movie set we went by and told us many gossip stories about the movie stars that stayed and visited. This tour was the perfect tour for taking photos. The tour guides stop in front of many historical sites so you can get the best photo possible before they move on to the next spot. Also, the horses are well taken care of and they love their job. Pet them and feed them apples after your carriage ride.

My favorite brunch place was Magnolia Bakery Café. If you want to eat at an authentic Southern restaurant, this place is the best! The food is made fresh and the prices are decent. You may also shop at their bakery after your meal to take some of this southern goodness home with you.

Photo taken by: Ron E from website https://www.zomato.com/hilton-head-island-sc/magnolia-bakery-cafe-beaufort

Beaufort, South Carolina is a down to earth, small Southern town I highly suggest for anyone to visit. I can’t wait to go back. Thank you all for reading.

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